Winter Wonderland – Arunachal Pradesh Tour & Travel Guide
Before I began my journey to Arunachal Pradesh, I felt pretty prepared. I read a lot about it, talked to many people about it. Arunachal is a place that you can read as much about as you want, but it is only by setting foot on this land and breathing the air that you will know what the magic is all about. After a rather exciting journey through the Assamese countryside.
How to reach from Delhi to Arunachal Pradesh ?
From New Delhi, I started my journey to Arunachal Pradesh. I chose the cheapest option that is trained; traveling in Indian railways is always the best and cheapest option for tourists. I booked train tickets from Delhi to Guwahati and from Guwahati to Naharlagun, and then I finally arrived at Bhalukpong. The small border town, which has only one main street (which also serves as the primary market), is the checkpoint for entry into Arunachal Pradesh. If you are visiting Arunachal Pradesh, you have to apply for Inner Line Permit for Arunachal Pradesh; you can apply here on the government website: Arunachal ILP
After checking into a beautiful guest house a little away from the main area, I make my way to the market. After wandering up and down the main street a few times (and earning a few strange looks from the locals), I finally settled into a small café, where the owner confirms that she serves vegetarian food. She is pretty sweet, and I start to feel more comfortable. She makes me some excellent tea and momos, and as I gobble it down, I chat with her, both of us giving each other small glimpses into our wonderfully different lives. Then, I return to my guesthouse, where the sound of the flowing river feels like a sweet lullaby. And so, I retire for the day to catch some much-needed peaceful sleep. The next day, I wake up to the beautiful sight of the mountains before me—but it is cloudy and rainy, and my grand dreams of a Himalayan sunrise are dampened. After getting ready to move on, I get my permit checked and then catch a taxi at about 7 am. My bags are put up on the roof, tied securely with a dozen other bags, and I cram into the front seat in the middle of the driver and another passenger, dreading the 10-hour journey ahead with my 10 co-passengers.
Food, Stay, and Travel options in Arunachal Pradesh, North East India
After a while, we stopped for breakfast, and I had my first classic traveler Arunachali thali—poori, sabzi, salad, and the traditional chili chutney. It is beautiful— the simple food is soul-satisfying and gives me all the energy I need for the ride ahead. My co-passenger is kind enough to let me take the window seat—he has traveled on this route enough times not to be as fascinated by its beauty as I am, and I couldn’t be happier. As it turns out, he and some other men are part of the BRO (Border Road Organization). We all start chatting, and soon the taxi ride becomes less tedious. I found out that BRO works with the Army in maintaining roads near the border areas and towns. It is interesting to know not just about the lives of locals, but also people not from Arunachal living in the far end of the country. We start to climb higher into the hills, and the views get more stunning the higher we go. We pass beautiful bridges on rivers that run deep below us, with their pristine blue waters and clean air, making this place something of a paradise on earth. It is still cold, and I wonder how beautiful this place must look in summers. Halfway into the journey, I start seeing long strands of beautiful and colorful prayer flags along the roads and in towns, indicating the presence of Buddhism in this side of the state. These prayer flags are tied around the region and are said to protect the area. Religion is also one of the reasons why this region is so peaceful. The majority of the population follows Buddhism, and the people here are humble and kind.
Travel and Tourist Places of Bomdila and Dirang
As we cross the significant towns of Bomdila and Dirang, the weather starts to get even colder, and I see hints of ice and snow. Soon, we are driving on steep Himalayan roads with snow showers and fog overtaking us. It is the moment I have been waiting for—we are finally arriving at the infamous Sela Pass. At the height of about 14,000 ft., this high-altitude mountain pass is one of the most adventurous places I have ever traveled to. Fellow passengers begin to narrate the legend of how the pass got its name through the heroism of Jaswant Singh, an Indian soldier who kept the Chinese Army away for three days during the Indo-China War accompanied by only a single companion— Sela. A war memorial on the way pays tribute to him and others who fought bravely for the country. We drive slowly beside Sela Lake, one of the many lakes in the region. It is half-frozen at this time of the year. Everything is so white that I feel like I am in some winter wonderland. My friend tells me how he survived here once with the Sumo just a few inches away from falling off the cliff. I can’t help but think about faith, and suddenly the contrast of the colorful Buddhist flags against the snow becomes a symbol of hope. We stop for tea at a small shop amidst the snowfall, and although the tea turns cold as soon as I come out of the shop, I realize that I will never forget drinking that particular cup in that particular place.
Tawang Tourist Places and Sightseeing
It starts to get dark now, and our skilled driver drives as best as possible with limited visibility in the heavy fog. I gain much respect for him and the others who drive on this route regularly. We pass the majestic gate welcoming us into the Tawang tour and soon reach the town (accompanied by the pouring rain). My hosts welcome me into the Tawang guest house, and I prepare myself for a warm sleep while wishing for a clear tomorrow. The sunrise, as I discovered, was mesmerizing, but the sleep was not so warm! I wake up to a clear morning and look out of my window to see the Tawang Monastery shining in the distance. The guest house lady is up early and is hanging clothes out to dry because it is a sunny day. She tells me about her life in Tawang and her children, and I tell her about my life in Delhi and my parents. After a brief but exciting conversation, I leave for the monastery. I see what I missed last night in the dark as I turn around. A giant statue of the Buddha is right in front of me, and it radiates such positive energy that I am awestruck. It is magnificent. I feel tiny and humble in front of it and want the light of the Buddha to shine upon the whole world. It’s a beautiful day to walk, and as I do so, I ask many people for directions— and they are more than kind enough to help, with a smile.
While I go up and down the mountain roads, I wonder if the magic of the mountains makes people so kind and humble here. I pass some children on their way to school, and it makes me so happy to see them roaming around freely. They are lovely to talk to and sing their way to school. I reached the gompa (monastery) in an hour, having passed many pretty tiny houses, people, and yaks. The yaks seem a little shyer than everyone else, or they may not like outsiders that much. This gompa is enormous, and I see many more cute Buddhist kids going to school. I see them play around and wonder how different their lives are from ours, revolving around religion. I light a candle in the name of peace and watch an old monk weaving a basket. The giant Buddha statue inside the main gompa, once again, leaves me speechless, and in a vague attempt to keep this memory intact in my way, I try to draw his face in my notebook. I find that the museum at the gompa is informative, and I am incredibly impressed by a colorful painting made entirely of colored butter. I can get a ride for the day with two friends, and we will soon move out of the main town. Our first stop is at another gompa on a hill, the Sera Jey Jamyang Choekhorling Monastery, which has stunning views of the Himalayas. We talked to the monks for a long time. They are shy at first, but then they begin to talk about their lives, their perspective, and what they think of the world. I wonder if they find my life as intriguing as I find theirs. These are primarily young monks who are getting educated in Buddhist philosophy. Tawang has a lot of monasteries, but each one of them gives a different experience. Even though I don’t want to leave, my companions drag me out, promising amazing views of our next stop—the Nuranang Falls, also known as the Jung falls. They are indeed breathtaking and bring a child-like smile to our faces when we spot a rainbow. We sit by the river and contemplate the meaning of life, the profound effect of the mountains and flowing river taking over. The rest of the day is spent crossing natural bridges, eating good food, and admiring the beauty of this beautiful state.
As I wake up the next day, I see a different Tawang outside my window. I jump with excitement as I see that a layer of white has covered the whole town. I hastily get ready and see that my even more excited friends are already waiting outside. We walk to the monastery again in the snow, hoping to watch the prayers, but realize we are too late for that. As we stand outside the monastery, we find some young monks playing in the snow. Watching them play around is undoubtedly one of the most joyful sights I have witnessed in my life, and I find myself as lit up with happiness as they are. Even though the snow prevents me from going to the border regions (Bumla or Zemithang), I am happy to spend the day eating Thukpa, watching the snowfall outside the window, and talking to my new friends. We still manage to catch the sound and light show at the War Memorial, making everyone emotional. The Army plays a significant role in the lives of the people here. It is interesting to glimpse their dynamics in this border town, coupled with religious history and the political tensions with China and Tibet.
Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh Tourist Places Tour
I am supposed to leave for Bomdila the next day, but a delay in our taxi ride due to heavy snow leaves us waiting early in the morning. But luckily for us, this turns into the perfect opportunity to visit the women’s monastery, which is situated high on a hill. We can take a lift halfway, but the ice stops the car from going ahead. So we hike on the snow and ice-covered mountain path. It turns out to be a great experience, and I see my favorite yaks again, minding their own business in the mountains. The women’s gompa looks beautiful amidst the snowy mountain, and I am happy to talk to one of the monks there, who shares her life story with me about how she became a monk. We are accompanied by her younger brother, my newest friend, on our way back, who at 8 years old also turns out to be the best snowball fighter I have met to date. He is intelligent and shows us the shortcuts before parting ways to school. If there is one thing that my travels have taught me, people very much shape the identity of a place. I am amazed at the people here and humbled at their kindness and simplicity, and with a promise to come back again to this peaceful Buddhist paradise, I take my seat in the taxi, awaiting the next adventure. You can find Arunachal Pradesh Tour Packages and Travel Information on our website.
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